Quantity Surveying, Not Only About Quantities And Figures – Shonubi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Quantity Surveying, Not Only About Quantities And Figures – Shonubi

Posted: Jun 16, 2015 at 1:56 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Olayemi Shonubi is the former Lagos State chapter chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS). In this interview with NKASIOBI OLUIKPE, he declares in unequivocal terms, that in other countries, civil engineering structures are cost managed by quantity surveyors as there is nothing like the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME). In Nigeria, he said, Engineers are just trying to circumvent the law with BEME. Excerpts:

How has the quantity surveying profession contributed to Nigeria’s economic development?

Olayemi Shonubi

Olayemi Shonubi

The quantity surveyors have made a lot of contributions to the economic development of this country. I would want to mention a number of our members that have contributed immensely to the economic development of this country. The current Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, formerly of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) who later became the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the current president of the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Murtala Aliyu and his former partner, formed the Afriproject Consortium, that managed the entire Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) project when the current president was the chairman. We are trained accountants for the construction industry, because we offer procurement and legal advice for the construction industry. We give value for money to the different aspects of economy, both at the state and federal levels.  It is obvious that the quantity surveyors have not been lacking in their contribution to the economy.


How do you differentiate between the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) by the engineers and the Bill of Quantities by the quantity surveyors? Does the availability of both not amount to duplication of function?

There has been a lot of misconception borne out of the fact that we have a certain profession that has encroached into another profession. It’s just like when accountants were doing the job of tax professionals before the advent of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). The presence of CITN led to a crisis between the two bodies. The crisis made ICAN to write to its members to withdraw from tax matters. It’s almost the same thing that we have in the construction industry.  For any project, there must be a condition of contract and an article of agreement which is usually between the employer who is the client or promoter and the contractor who is going to carry out or execute the project. The truth of the matter is that if you look at the entire gamut of what the engineers present in the BEME as compared to what we do, you will find out that there will be more value if you engage the quantity surveyor than have an engineer do it. They are only trying to circumvent the law. It is not all about putting quantities and figures. Everything the quantity surveyor does, he will still have to pass it through the engineer, and it is not as if he will submit directly to the client. That way, you have the checks and balance. As it is now, there is nothing like that. The same man that did the design is the same man that does the evaluation. Who is checking him?

Shouldn’t the bottom line be that the project is executed appropriately?

Well, there are so many parameters to that. A project that is supposed to cost N1bn and take one year to complete is now costing N10bn and that takes 10 years to be completed. Do you say that is appropriately and successfully completed? Though, there are so many factors that could lead to the long duration as well as the cost overruns. If the budget is not properly managed, you will find out that there is no way that you will not have cost overruns and time running over. That is the reason why when you see civil engineering projects where quantity surveyors are involved, you will see the difference. Hardly will you find such projects not completed on time and even if there is going to be cost overruns, it is going to be limited. That only happens when the clients decide to change the design or change the initial specification. Though there has been this instability in terms of the exchange and interest rate. The moment the inflation rate goes beyond double digits it will affect cost.


Why the public outcry that Nigeria infrastructural projects cost double of what obtains in other countries?

That’s because quantity surveyors are not involved. Look at Ghana here for instance; they always include quantity surveyors in all their projects. It is only in Nigeria that quantity surveyors are not involved in engineering projects and we and Ghana share the same background. As a matter of fact our institute is doing a research to establish how much it will cost to construct a kilometer of road for each of the six geopolitical zones, and we are submitting that to government.


What are the old practicing quantity surveyors doing to help the quantity surveying undergraduates become entrepreneurially relevant after graduation?

Last year, the Southwest chapter of the National Association of Quantity Surveying Students held a convention at Akure, where we brought different professionals to open their eyes and minds on how to be relevant in other areas and sectors other than the quantity surveying industry. Of course the entrepreneurship talk was not left out.


What is happening to the National Building Code?

That’s a big question. The then Minister for Housing, Environment and Urban Development mentioned that the Ministry was looking at the building code with a view to revising it, saying that they were almost done with it and were going to present it to the Federal Executive Council. It shouldn’t be left for those in the Ministry to look at. I was expecting that all the stakeholders should have been invited to make their contributions. People still refer to the fact that we have cases of building collapse because there is no building code.


As the Lagos State chapter chairman of the NIQS, what challenges were you confronted with?

The basic challenge had to do with joggling my activity as the chairman of the chapter with working for myself. But to God be the glory, I had a partner who quite understood and gave all the support. If you truly want to offer service, it is something that if you are not careful, even the little you are making from your office, you dump it into running around for the institution. I believe that it is only God that can bless anyone, if not you may just continue running around in circles. Besides, if you do things for people, there is this inner satisfaction you get.